Muslims all over the world today celebrate the Eid-el Kabir (Greater Festival), also referred to as Eid-el Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), which officially commences with the two rakaat prayers. This particular Eid, which is usually celebrated on the 10th of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijja, is celebrated to commemorate the readiness of Prophet Ibrahim to use his only child then, Prophet Ismail, for a sacrifice, in obedience to God’s command. Just as he was about to apply the knife, the Almighty rescued the child by providing a ram in the place of the child. The Eid-el Adha is usually preceded by millions of the Muslim faithful standing on Mount Arafat on the 9th of Dhul Hijja. These are the ones who have been fortunate to travel to Mecca for the Hajj, itself one of the major pillars of Islam.
In Nigeria, the federal government has declared today and tomorrow as a public holiday in commemoration of this solemn festival’ To ensure trouble-free festivities nationwide, the police have made “robust and elaborate security arrangements”, supervised by assistant inspectors general of police and commissioners in zonal and state commands. The plans include the deployment of officers “on visibility patrols and for crowd controls at Eid praying grounds and other venues of the festivities. “They are under strict instructions to be civil, polite and compassionate, but firm” police spokesman Jimoh Moshood said.
The festivities involve durbars, exchange of gifts, visits, greetings and other forms of merriment. We wish to particularly enjoin our Muslim brothers and sisters across the country to also use the period to engage in sober reflections and prayers for the peace and progress of our nation. This is more so as this year’s feast of sacrifice has come at a time the country is preparing for general elections next February, only 6 months away. Present political activity does not portend well. There are also security challenges confronting our nation. Yes, the Boko Haram insurrection has been all but put down. But new security threats have cropped up, not least the ongoing killings by armed herdsmen. Only yesterday, there was the reported killing of 63 people by Boko Haram in the northeast, necessitating a meeting of all the country’s security chiefs in Abuja, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari. He told them to up the fight against the insurrectionists.
We further appeal to the Muslim faithful to imbibe those lessons that can be learnt during this period, especially drawing from the complete subservience of Prophet Ibrahim to Allah, which teaches us to be patient, tolerant and obedient to God and the constituted authority. Besides, Muslims are enjoined, during this period, to be nice to fellow human beings, most especially the poor, the needy and wayfarers, whether or not they belong to the same faith. This should encourage us to show concern for the plights of fellow human beings through the sharing of food and other gifts, thereby inculcating in us the virtues of kindness, compassion, love, tenderness, warmth and affection, all of which negate all forms of hostility, conflict and aggression that are now prevalent in the Nigerian nation.
Beyond the call on Muslim faithful to thoroughly imbibe the spirit of patience, tolerance and obedience to constituted authority, we seize this opportunity to urge our leaders at all levels of governance to eschew all forms of corruption and injustice that have smeared Nigeria’s image globally, and have been at the root of the insurgency and other froms of criminality we are witnessing. While calling for self-restraint among all and sundry, we wish our Muslim brothers and sisters in Nigeria and the world over happy Eid-el Kabir festivities.